At Flat Rock Elks Lodge #1731, “Caring is Sharing” is alive and well

At Flat Rock Elks Lodge #1731, “Caring is Sharing” is alive and well

The Flat Rock Elks # 1731 located in the Southeast corner of the State of Michigan is dedicated to Community Service and helping those that need assistance.

Over 10 years ago, one of our members, Brian Marvaso, PER, brought a project to our lodge. This was to host a Basketball Game between the ARC of Downriver (ARC) and the Woodhaven Warriors senior boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. He passed a hat and a handful of people reached in their pockets, funded and ran the first event. Following that event, the lodge came together and decided this would be our focus to support, fund, organize, administer and participate in recreational events that focuses on Special Needs Individuals, High School Athletes and Elk Members. Since then, this program has expanded to include Jo Brighton (children), ARC of Downriver (ARC), Mi. Cookie (adults), 4 separate School Districts and the Flat Rock Elks. Events include Bowling, Basketball, Softball, Kayaking and now Bocce Ball.

We have been very fortunate to receive several grants yearly from Elks National Foundation (ENF) which allows us the ability to hold and host these events. These events foster friendships, bonding and mentoring opportunities. Financial shortfalls to these events are covered with in-house fund raising. We would not be able to host these events without ENF assistance.

We are currently supporting the ARC of Downriver (ARC), Jo Brighton (children) and MI. Cookie (adult bakery). These organizations help and assist Special Needs Individuals. Between these three groups, all ages are included. We do support other causes, such as Veterans, Scholarships, Drug Awareness, etc., but our primary focus is on these individuals.

These recreational events are truly inspirational! Words cannot describe the feelings you get while engaging with these wonderful Special Needs Individuals, High School Athletes and Elk Members. Additionally, the pride you feel from seeing the acceptance of parents and family members of the participants.

Our lodge was approached by a lodge member Mike Herbst and past Director of the ARC of Downriver. Mike told us that their athletes have improved drastically due to our support. He also continued to explain that one of the downriver teams (Stingrays) has been invited to participate in the U.S.A. Special Olympics in Orlando, FL. The event is June 5ththru the 12th. In the past, the ARC organization usually hand picks athletes from around the state, but this year they have selected the entire Stingrays team from downriver. He continued to say that for these players and coaches to attend this event, funding is needed. Each individual needs $ 1,200 for food, travel and lodging. That is 10 players and 2 coaches. This spurred a dilemma within the lodge on how we can fund this wonderful opportunity.

Flat Rock Elks Lodge # 1731 reached out for help. We contacted John Truskowski, Major Project Commissioner for the Southeast District. John is also the Vice-Chairman of the Commission. We explained our need and he listened to us. He told us he would investigate it and would get back with us.

This year, the Michigan Major Project expanded their program. In the past, Major Project gave help, support and funding for Special Needs Children, within the State of Michigan for over 65 years. This program is very successful and has helped and are helping thousands of children throughout our state. Starting this year, the Michigan Major Project Commission has decided that its program should be expanded, and it will now start to assist Special Needs Individuals over the age of 18 years of age. Previously the program was only allowed to support individuals under the age of 18 years of age. This now opens the door for assistance of all Special Needs Individuals, regardless of age. What a wonderful move! What a great group of Commissioners and Executive Director.

The Major Project Commission met in March of this year at their annual meeting to set their upcoming budget. At that meeting they discussed this issue and invited me in for a conference call, I spoke with them and answered all their questions about this wonderful opportunity. The enthusiasm and positivity that came from this meeting was delightful. 

After some discussion, the Michigan Elks Major Project Commission decided that this does fall within their requirements of their new program and awarded the Flat Rock Elks # 1731 $1,200 per player for a total of $12,000. These funds combined with a ENF Gratitude Grant will send all players and coaches to the U.S.A. Special Olympics. This program is totally funded. GO STINGRAYS !!!

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As of this posting, 10 June 22, the STINGRAYS won GOLD at the U.S.A. Special Olympics. What a fantastic finish to this story, we hope to see more. This amazing story could not be told if we did not have the assistance of the E.N.F. and the Michigan Elks Major Project. A Heartfelt Thank You goes out to the Elks National Foundation and the Michigan Elks Major Project Commission!


Tom Harder
Keith Diedrich
Flat Rock Elks #1731

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